Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Warren, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
2020年9月9日星期三，民主党总统候选人、前副总统乔·拜登在密歇根州沃伦举行的竞选活动中发表讲话。（美联社照片/ Patrick Semansky）
President Donald Trump reacts after a campaign rally, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Moon Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
2020年9月22日星期二，总统唐纳德·特朗普在在宾夕法尼亚州Moon Township举行的竞选集会后作出反应（美联社照片/ Keith Srakocic）
针对自筹资金竞选总统、参议员和众议员的人，联邦法律设有可以从哪里以及可以如何索取捐款的规定，并且限定个人可以捐献的数额。法律力求确保让媒体和公民能够知道哪些人给哪个候选人捐款。总统候选人必须成立一个被称为政治委员会的竞选组织，并在联邦选举委员会 （Federal Election Commission）注册。一经注册，政治委员会便可以募捐，但必须向选举委员会报告全部募捐所得，让公众可以得到这一信息。近年来的主要党派的总统候选人 为竞选活动斥资数亿美元。这些自行募捐的 候选人需争取到数以千计的捐款者。
简单的回答是，在12个月或更长的总统竞选期间与全国一亿选民进行交流接触需要很多费用。美国总统候选人必须不仅在国家范围而且在50个州内开展竞选活动。这意味着，他们必须在全国范围和各 州州内雇有工作人员，亲自并通过全国和地方电视、广播和社交媒体接触选民。总统初选和预选会议的增多导致竞选时间加长，需要有比以往更多的旅行和广告费用支出。竞选公职的候选人需要雇用工作人员， 安排办公室、旅行、进行调研、发布阐明立场的文稿，在电台和电视台以及出版物和互 联网上打广告，并进行无数次的公开露面和筹款活动。总统候选人必须完成在各州内组织初选活动的艰巨任务，然后，如果被提名，要在全国各地进行大选竞选活动。众议员候选人需要在其所在选区进行竞选，参议员候选人必须在全州范围内竞选。
2010年，美国最高法院裁定，竞选政治开销是言论表达的一种形式，因而受美国宪法第一修正案的保护（First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution）。其结果是， 自2010年起，候选人可以无限量地使用自身财力资助竞选活动。这项裁决也给了那些“政治行动委员会” （political action committees， 缩写PACS）更大的回旋余地。“政治行动委员会”是由支持某些具体的主张、候选人、公投倡议或立法的个人、企业和利益集团组成。根据联邦法律，当一个组织为影响联邦选举而接受或花费超过 2600美元时，它便成为“政治行动委员会”。各州对一个组织在什么情况下被定为“政治行动 委员会”有各自的法律规定。“政治行动委员会”独立于候选人的正式筹 款委员会，因此不受相同规定的制约——虽然也必须在联邦选举委员会注册。但是，“政治行动委员会”与候选人的关系必须有限度。例如，“ 政治行动委员会”不得直接向候选人的选举委员会捐赠超过 5000美元，然而，它可以无资金限量地打广告宣传或反对某一候选人的观点——只要它的行动独立于候选人的竞选活动即可。
#US-General Election# – How do presidential candidates pay for their campaigns?
Since 1976, candidates for president have been eligible to participate in a public financing system to pay for their campaigns. Until the 2000 elections, all candidates nominated for president participated in this system by accepting government funds in exchange for a promise not to spend more than a specified amount. However, this system has become increasingly unappealing to candidates because the imposed spending limit is considered too low—and less than the amount that major candidates can often raise from private sources. Consequently, some recent presidential candidates have opted out of public funding and instead raised money to fund their campaigns.
For candidates who raise their own funds, federal law dictates how and from whom candidates for president, senator and representative may seek contributions. It also limits how much any individual contributor can give. The law ensures that the press and citizens know who is contributing to a given candidate. A candidate for president must establish a campaign organization, called a political committee, and register it with the Federal Election Commission. Once registered, political committees may seek contributions but must report all funds raised to the commission, which makes the information available to the public. Recent major-party presidential candidates have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their campaigns. Those who raise their own funds must find thousands of contributors.
Why do U.S. presidential campaigns cost so much?
The short answer is that it is expensive to communicate to a nation of 100 million voters for the 12 or more months that make up the presidential campaign season. U.S. presidential candidates must campaign at the national level as well as in the 50 states. This means that they must hire both national and state-level staff and reach voters in person and through national and local television, radio and social media. The proliferation of presidential primaries and caucuses has resulted in longer campaigns that involve more travel and paid advertising than in the past. To campaign for office, a candidate needs to hire staff; arrange for office space and travel; conduct research; issue position papers; advertise on radio and television, in publications and on the Internet; and conduct numerous public appearances and fundraising events. Candidates for president have the daunting task of organizing their primary campaigns state by state and then, if nominated, their general election campaign throughout the nation. A candidate for the House of Representatives will campaign in his or her specific congressional district, while a Senate candidate must cover an entire state.
Do candidates have access to other sources of funding?
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that political spending is a form of speech and thus protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a result, since 2010, candidates can spend an unlimited amount of their own money to fund their campaigns. The ruling also gave greater leeway to “political action committees” (PACs), which are formed when individuals, businesses and interest groups pool their money and donate it to support specific ideas, candidates, ballot initiatives or legislation. According to federal law, an organization becomes a PAC when it receives or spends more than $2,600 for the purpose of influencing a federal election. States have their own laws governing when an organization becomes a PAC. Because they are independent of a candidate’s official fundraising committee, PACs are not subject to the same regulations—even though they must register with the Federal Election Commission—but they are limited in how closely they can coordinate with candidates. For example, a PAC cannot contribute more than $5,000 directly to a candidate’s election committee, but it can spend an unlimited amount of money to run ads that advocate or oppose a specific candidate’s views.
Do you know how much the Hillary Clinton and Trump campaigns spent in 2016? To learn more about financing campaigns, read: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/wp-content/uploads/sites/252/Elections-USA_In-Brief-Series_Chinese_Hi-Res.pdf
U.S. Embassy Elections 2020 Information Page: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/zh/2020-elections-zh/